Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Library of Dreams - publishing for charity

Today I'm sharing with you two excerpts from the short story anthology Library of Dreams, a lovely collection whose entire profits go to charity. These dream-themed tales were concocted by a writers' group I'm a part of; I donated my time as an editor and I can tell you, I really enjoyed these stories. All profits from the sale of this collection will go to LitWorld, a 501(c)3 non-profit literacy organization fostering resilience, hope, and joy through the power of story. Library of Dreams is available in both paperback and e-book format. What a great way to give yourself, or someone you love, a holiday gift while also doing good in the world.

Click on the book cover for more information

From Ribbon Chasers by Len Webster:

It was a dream he had every night, a dream that made his heart pump, his sweat drip and his head hurt. The same damn dream every night. He remembered the squeal and then the gunshot. He watched those brown eyes flash before he heard her final scream, and then silence.

He tried. As much as he tried to change the outcome of his dream, it was always the same. He couldn’t fix the ending. It was set, though he tried desperately to save her. He remembered the day he took the case. Sometimes he wished he hadn’t. Maybe another agent could have saved her.

“You’re talking like you’re not going to do these things,” Patrick said. He could see it all for her. He could see her in university and he saw her living her life. He had to make sure she lived. “Sadie, they aren’t going to get you. Dawson and I will make sure you get to the trial safely and become Rachel Sims. You will become a psychologist, and even if you don’t want to be one after all of this, you can be whatever you want. You will live a long and happy life, Sadie.” Silent tears fell down her cheeks and she gave him a tight smile.

“You weren’t there,” she whispered. Patrick kept quiet and his silence gave her the cue to continue.

“Dad and I, we were talking about my upcoming final exams. We were out for lunch and I already had an early acceptance into Melbourne University. I hadn’t told him because I thought I’d save the good news for when he was down. But I never got the chance, because the moment we hit the corner a car stopped in front of us. I felt Dad try to push me back, but then shots were fired and I felt blood hit my hand. He was shot five times. Five. Dad fell backwards on the concrete and I just stood there. That gangster pointed the gun at me and smiled. Told me that he’d get me when he was good and ready. For being the daughter of the crown prosecutor, I had to die as well. My death would be slow and torturous because I was pretty and innocent-looking. He’d enjoy killing me. Bring me back to life if he had to, until I got to the edge of death again. He promised I’d be begging him to kill me.”

From Lovers' Fugue by Charlotte Ashley:

It had been twenty-two hours and six minutes since Evie Lancaster had gone off the Dimorphazine. So far, she hadn't noticed anything different.

“The symphony is over three hours long,” Rochelle said, waving Evie's concerns away dismissively, “you'll peak sometime in the second movement. Relax, sweetie. Even if you are only half Awakened by then, you'll pick up the projections on display tonight. Believe me, this is gonna be wild.”

Evie tried to affect an edgy, carefree grin and failed. She didn't really want wild. She was pretty sure she was too tightly-laced to appreciate wild. She was so terrified of not just the psychological, but the legal consequences of what might go on tonight, she wasn't sure she was going to enjoy herself at all.

Evie glanced nervously down the road. They couldn't enter the Opera House for another half-hour. She, Dex and Rochelle were slouched on a street corner, sticking out like a trio of lizards in an egg carton. Dex and Rochelle, veterans of the Opera House, were dressed to the nines in slick black corsets over neon blouses with pagoda sleeves and elaborately embroidered silk pantaloons, with brightly-dyed wigs sculpted precariously around Rococo headpieces featuring birds, fish, glass balls, and the guts of scavenged twenty-first century electronics.

Evie was, herself, dressed in a skin-tight, deep-purple dress studded with the remains of a shattered mirror, a flowing starscape over which her bare shoulders and blonde hair rose like the sun. She felt ridiculously exposed, but Rochelle assured her the best projections came when you gave the imagination something to work with. 

For more information about buying a copy (paperback or e-book) anywhere in the world, have a look at the PSG Publishing website. You can also enter to win a free copy through Goodreads, but hurry - the contest ends December 22. Happy reading!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Winter Solstice Blog Hop: Healing Midwinter Ritual

Today I’m sharing with you a healing Winter Solstice ritual. The holidays can be a hard time for many of us. You may feel stressed out by unfulfilled (and unfulfillable) expectations, or be upset by unpleasant memories of past holidays, or be missing loved ones who have passed on. It’s hard to enjoy the season when something heavy weighs on your heart. This ritual is simple but it’s powerful. I hope it helps you find a way to feel more comfortable and more whole through this time of the year.

Read through to the bottom of this post to find out how to enter a giveaway for one of two signed copies of my latest book and to find more participants in the Blog Hop and more giveaways!

* * * * *

Winter Solstice Healing Rite

What you will need:

- Small pieces of paper or card you can write on. Old holiday cards, cut into pieces the size of the palm of your hand, are a good choice. Have at least a dozen of these on hand.

- A pen, pencil or other writing instrument in a color and style that remind you of the holidays.

- Earth. If you have access to an outdoor area where you can dig in the ground, and the ground isn’t frozen solid or inaccessible because it’s covered with several feet of snow, that’s your best choice. But the dirt in a potted plant will work just fine, as will a bucket or bowl full of potting soil. The important thing to remember is that, once you have completed the ritual, the soil needs to remain undisturbed until the holidays are over, preferably until Spring Equinox (watering the potted plant is fine but digging in the soil around it is not). You will also need a tool with which to dig a small hole – a trowel will do but you can get away with using a large spoon if your Earth resides in a potted plant or a container of loose potting soil.

- A time and place where you can be undisturbed and can feel safe and private. Turn off your phone, shut the door, ask family or roommates to go out for a while, whatever it takes so you can feel comfortable. If you wish, light candles and incense, turn on soft music or whatever else will help you relax and focus on the task at hand. You can perform the first part of the ritual indoors and then go outdoors to complete it if you’re using an outdoor area for access to Earth, or you can do the whole thing outdoors, provided the weather is agreeable.

The ritual:

Set the pieces of card and the pen out in front of you. If you feel a connection with deity you may call on that Power now, either aloud or silently. Earth gods and goddesses in particular can be very helpful for this ritual. You may also ask your higher self, guides, guardians and the universe itself to aid you. Take a few deep breaths, relax, and allow your mind to roam over the subject of the winter holidays. Let the feelings, thoughts and memories come up as they may. Do not judge them but just observe them. 

After a few minutes of this, begin to focus on the aspects of the holidays that bring up feelings of sadness, discomfort, anxiety or anger. As each aspect defines itself in your mind, write it down on a piece of card. Be very specific here. Name names, include dates and locations, and specify the emotion that accompanies each one. Teasing out exactly which sentiments each aspect triggers can be difficult but it is also a healing act just to define and acknowledge how you really feel.

It may take a while for you to define the activities and memories about the holidays that make you feel bad or they may come tumbling out faster than you can write them down. There is no wrong way to do this. Allow yourself as much time as it takes and also give yourself the freedom to feel whatever you feel. Often we make ourselves even more miserable by trying to live up to other people’s expectations about our emotions (You shouldn’t feel that way! or Aren’t you over that yet?). While actions can certainly be right or wrong under various circumstances, emotions just ARE. However you feel is however you feel. Give your emotions some room, then legitimate them by writing them down.

Once you have written down your uncomfortable and distressing feelings about the holidays, look back over the cards. Read each one. Acknowledge that is how you honestly feel. When thoughts pop up telling you to judge your emotions or to blame them on yourself or others, allow these notions to pass on through your mind and dissolve away. This ritual is not about judgment or blame. It is simply about your feelings and giving yourself the opportunity to heal.

This time of year the Earth is dormant, quiet and peaceful. This is the most grounding season of all, the time when the Earth swallows up discordant energy and dissipates it, gifting us the serenity and calmness to move through our lives from day to day in peace. Now take the cards on which you have inscribed your emotions and carry them to the Earth you have chosen to use. Place your hand on the soil and feel its steadiness. We are of the Earth. It provides our firm foundation, our grounding. Offer thoughts and words of gratitude to the Earth as you dig a hole just large enough to hold your stack of cards. Lay the cards in the hole and cover them up, giving those emotions to the Earth, grounding them. Allow the feeling of peace to settle over you. Thank any deities or Powers you have asked for aid and put away your tools.

This ritual will not magically erase all those uncomfortable emotions but it will give you some space, some peaceful room in which you can just be. That, all by itself, is healing. Strong emotions are like live electrical wires, sparking on everything they touch. Electrical circuits have ground wires for a reason. The Earth is our ground wire. Allow it to drain off the excess so you don’t ‘fry’ this holiday season.

I bid you peace.

* * * * *

This post is a participant in the Winter Solstice Blog Hop. As part of the festivities, I’m holding a giveaway of TWO signed copies of my latest book, Ariadne’s Thread: Awakening the Wonders of the Ancient Minoans in Our Modern LivesIn Ariadne’s Thread you will find, among others, a more complex Midwinter ritual that is also very healing.

Ariadne's Thread

If you would like to be entered into the giveaway, please  make sure you have liked my Facebook page then leave a comment on this blog post no later than December 13 (and please make sure there's a way for me to contact you so I can let you know if you won). I will use to choose the winner on December 14.

Once you’ve left your comment on this post, you can follow the Hop to another blog where you’ll find more interesting seasonal posts and fun giveaways.

Hop on over to another participating blog:

Click on the bookshelf to find all my available titles: